22nd April: Huatulco

Trip Start Apr 16, 2005
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Trip End May 01, 2005


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Flag of Mexico  , Pacific Coast,
Saturday, April 23, 2005

Huatulco in the morning mist
Here we are, coming into the Mexican town of Huatulco.

Huatulco (pronounced Wa-TUL-co) is about 250 miles down the coast from Acapulco, but as a resort it's as far removed as you could possibly imagine.

The small pier - room for only one ship here - has only recently been built, and it's probably the largest construction in the area. There are very few hotels and all the locals are really nice people. You feel you can trust these people unlike their Acapulcan cousins who just give you the impression (and it's usually right) that they're out to con as much money from you as they can.
We hadn't made any plans for this visit - no shore excursions took our fancy and we really couldn't find out much about it. We soon discovered that that's because there isn't actually much here. However, what there is here is pure gold[1].

The area of Huatulco is actually made up of nine bays. It didn't take us long to find a willing guide with a canopied boat, paid the man $130 for the day and set off to explore. On the way out, we passed the ship - here she is:
Our floating hotel

Our guide, Carmello, took us to each bay in turn; the one where the ship was docked was fairly built-up and busy and the next two along were at least populated. Every other bay we saw was completely deserted! Helen had expressed a desire to snorkel a little, so we stopped off in one of the populated bays to pick up a snorkel and flippers then set off for one of the better snorkelling spots - "La India". Of course, it was a completely deserted beach with perfect golden sand. However, the tide was fairly strong and as a result Chris fell over in the waves rather a lot. We laughed. A lot of fun was had by all (except Xander who was too hot and too sleepy to approve of all this frivolity).
Here it is, from our little boat.


There's some fantastic wildlife about. We were cruising along from bay-to-bay when Carmello shouted "Tortuga!" and started to circle closer and closer in to give us the most fantastic view of a sea turtle sticking its head up to say hello. Alas, I got no pictures as I was cradling a sleeping two year old at the time, but the image is etched on our respective memories; in fact the Tortuga has become something of a mascot for the trip.


I did get some pics of other wildlife though. Here's a pair of the resident pelicans, dozing on a rock. These birds are as common here as seagulls are for us.
And here's an example of one of the species of fish, as caught[2] by Chris. This is, apparently, a Bonita.

Another species of fish that's a bit of a speciality around these parts is the Snapper, especially the Red Snapper.
And that's what I shared with Chris and Graham for lunch...

...

(That pause was for those who know my eating habits to pick themselves up off the floor. I don't eat fish, as a rule.)
It was yummy, too.
This was served at a beach café owned by (of course) a friend of Carmello's. That's just the way things work in Mexico - they all scratch each others' backs.
Nice café though. And exclusively served fish, hence the decision to throw caution to the wind and try the Snapper.
And this time the only peddlers we got were a jewellery seller ("Is ok!" says the owner, "This is Maria - she sells the good stuff!" And it was, too - all hallmarked silver), a guitar-strumming crooner (who was OK in an authentic Mexican kinda way) and a bloke walking round with a HUGE iguana chanting an ancient Aztec mantra: "Any-wanna-picha-widi-guana?"[3].

Carmello also showed us a couple of rock features. This first he described as "my grandfather".
The second needed no introduction as we both saw and heard it from a long way off. Spectacular.

Finally, something that impressed us all was that at one point Carmello spied something on the water and detoured to investigate. "Another tortuga?" we wondered. No - he picked up a polystyrene tray and dumped it into a bin on the boat.
These people really care for their land and environment.

Only time, the building of roads to the other bays and the inevitable influx of more tourists will tell if it lasts. I really hope it does - Huatulco is a beautiful place.






[1] That's not just (even?) a clever metaphor - there really is reputed to be gold in them thar hills, hidden when the Spanish invaded.
[2] Well, OK, "reeled in by" really as Carmello just stuck some bait on a hook and trailed it behind the boat; Chris just did the hard winding bit.
[3] Edit, Feb 2009, 4 years later: This has been repeated... um... repeatedly since. It's become a family catchphrase. When Xander is a famous rock singer, it will feature in one of his songs. Mark my words.
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